The SF Giants are “interested” in longtime Chicago Cubs southpaw Jon Lester, per report.
According to a report by MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, the SF Giants have interest in free-agent southpaw Jon Lester. Of course, Lester was a top free-agent in 2014 and turned down a bigger offer from the Giants to sign a 6-year, $155 million deal with the Chicago Cubs.
The southpaw has a lot of connections to the current Giants organization. General manager Scott Harris worked in the Cubs front-office during their free-agent pursuit of the southpaw and overlapped for the majority of his tenure in the Windy City. Lester was also teammates with manager Gabe Kapler and pitching coach Andrew Bailey during his early career with the Boston Red Sox.
Over his 15-year career, Lester has been one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball. Drafted by the Red Sox in the second round of the 2002 draft, Lester was in Boston from 2006-2014 before he was traded at the deadline of his final year of team control to the Oakland Athletics. After finishing the season with Oakland in a disappointing postseason defeat, Lester entered free agency where he signed with the Cubs.
In nearly 2600 career innings, Lester has a career 3.60 ERA. He has been a part of three championship teams, selected to five All-Star teams, and won the 2016 NLCS MVP in the Cubs run to end their 108 year World Series championship route.
Now, soon to be 37-years old, Lester is coming off the worst season of his career and is far beyond his prime. With the Giants starting rotation still in flux, Lester could emerge as a low-risk veteran. However, Morosi suggests that the team “would like to add one more starting pitcher” and it’s hard to imagine the team would consider Lester that final piece.
If Lester is a target, it might suggest that the Giants are leaning towards non-tendering starter Tyler Anderson. Otherwise, San Francisco would be entering 2021 with very little upside in their starting rotation.
In 2020, Lester completed 61 innings across 12 starts and recorded a 5.16 ERA. Lester’s peripherals did not suggest his performance was much better. All ERA estimators like FIP (5.14), xERA (5.69), and xFIP (5.11) rated his performance worthy of an ERA north of 5.10. At his age, it’s hard to envision him finding much more success.
Still, Lester has been a sturdy innings eater for his entire career. Since 2008, Lester has made at least 31 starts every year, with the exception of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Given the struggles of Giants starters to work deeper into games, they might be prioritizing someone they believe can provide more consistency.
The SF Giants starting rotation has yet to fully come into view. There remain many different paths the team could take in free agency, via trade, or even on the waiver wire to address it. It appears that longtime Chicago Cubs starter Jon Lester could be a part of at least one of those plans.